The Buffalo Sabres looked lousy to open the game and gave Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin an easy night for a pair of frames.
This time last season almost to the day, the Buffalo Sabres won their home-opener vs. the Ottawa Senators 4-1. Then, they finished the month of October at 6-3-0, before they won their first game in November 2022, improving their record to 7-3-0. You know what happened next, and it was the first of a few slumps that ultimately kept the Blue and Gold out of the playoffs.
What am I saying here? I’ve seen plenty of sensational Octobers and even a November when the Sabres railed off 10 wins in a row about five years back. In other words, we’ve become accustomed to hot starts, only to see the team slowly but steadily fade.
Tonight, the Sabres didn’t look as bad as they did in their final preseason game vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they still looked rusty. Buffalo allowed a pair of even strength goals, a power play goal, and a shorthanded goal, and everyone, from Henri Jokiharju puck watching to some bad rebounds from Devon Levi, and the rest of the squad are responsible. But there’s hope…
Season-opening loss tells the Buffalo Sabres what they need to build on
Far too often in this loss, the Sabres looked lackluster offensively, and it showed through the game’s first two periods. Finally, JJ Peterka knocked the puck into twine, and the Sabres got the sticks going in the third period, but it was way too little, too late.
Their timing was off on more than a few sequences, shots missed the net, and if they weren’t missing the net, they were blocked before the puck got there, passes got caught in skates, and the Sabres generally looked out of sync. But once again, now they know what to focus on, along with gaining ample experience as a group.
And think about it – although the core is settled for this team, the group itself is not. Devon Levi, Connor Clifton, Erik Johnson, Zach Benson, and Jordan Greenway weren’t even on the team this time last year. Do the math, and that’s nearly 22% of the roster, so it’s going to take time to mesh as a unit.
Add to the fact it’s a young team, and you’re going to need an adaptation period before they start resembling the Buffalo Sabres team we came to know last season. So there’s no need to overreact because they lost Game 1 of what is an 82-game season, the Blue and gold will figure it out.